Linda Firbank was shocked to learn that she had been chosen to be one of the first recipients of the Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
“I was definitely surprised, in fact I was shocked at first,” she said from Howe Sound Secondary, where she has been the career preparation educator since 1994.
But the award came as no surprise to many who work with Firbank.
“In the past decade the school’s Career Prep Program has been acknowledged as one of the finest in the province,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rick Erickson.
“(Firbank) makes connections with companies in the communities and ensures that our students have a successful work experience.”
About half of the Grade 12 students at Howe Sound Secondary participate in work experience and many go straight from secondary school into the workforce.
“In a small community like Squamish, nurturing these relationships and preparing the students adequately so that their experience benefits both them and their employer is critical,” said Erickson.
School Board Chair Dave Walden said Firbank’s role in the school is growing ever more important as students seek to find meaningful careers and employers desperately look for skilled workers.
“We know we do not currently have enough students with the requisite skills to fill the jobs that are already out their waiting for them,” he said.
“We need more educators like Linda Firbank to expose students to the possibilities that are out there for them to pursue.”
Firbank, and 20 other teachers from across the province, received the honour March 3 in Victoria. The special ceremony was held at Government House. It is the first year for the award, which is given in 10 categories, and was announced last year.
Recipients receive a certificate of achievement, a plaque and $1,500 for professional development.
For Firbank, her greatest award is working with the kids.
“I don’t really need any awards because I already have the best job,” she said, adding that she was nominated by her principal, Nancy Campbell.
“For our program I think it has been a really wonderful… For myself it is all about working with the students and helping them be successful
“I felt very humble (at the ceremony). The people that were there were just amazing. It was a wonderful experience and we have some amazing teachers around the province.”